Vigil Gets President Clinton's Stamp of Approval

According to a volunteer who was manning the Proposition One vigil in Lafayette Park, who prefers to remain anonymous, at approximately 3:00 am on June 12, 1999, he was reclining on the base of vigil founder Thomas' "Wanted Wisdom and Honesty" sign, covered by a sheet of polyurethane plastic, when a contingent of Secret Service agents in dark suits with radio receivers stuck in their ears told him to get up. The volunteer, who thought he was being arrested, first noticed the large black limousine as he was being frisked by the S.S. agents. After the agents were satisfied that the volunteer was unarmed, to his enormous surprise the door of the limousine opened and out stepped President William Jefferson Clinton.

The volunteer claims the President told him that looking out from the White House windows he often noticed the signs and wondered what things would look like from the other side. He sat on the Wisdom and Honesty sign and visited with the volunteer for about twenty minutes. They discussed a gesture the volunteer had thrown at the presidential motorcade as it whisked past him on the street several days earlier. Much of the visit was small talk, but the volunteer mentioned several questions about sanity and societal values.*

The volunteer asked why the police were hostile to homeless people in Lafayette Park, frequently forcing them out of the Park. "It doesn't look good," the President explained, adding that millions of people came to visit so it's important to maintain an atmosphere of dignity around the White House.

The volunteer turned the conversation to the political message of the vigil -- the elimination of nuclear and other genocidal weapons, and tried to hand the President a flier. "I've already seen the flier," the President said, and named the other vigilers. The Proposition One website ( is painted on the signs in various strategic places; the vigilers conjecture that he may have seen the volunteer on the "Vigilers and Friends" page.

"Why don't you come out to the vigil, and talk to us during the daytime?" the volunteer asked.

Mr. Clinton explained why a public visit wasn't possible. "If I did that can you imagine the headlines all over the country? 'President Visits Anti-nuke Crazies!'" Apparently the President felt he'd already been getting his fair share of bad press.

The volunteer talked a little about the moral issues related to nuclear weapons, and pointed to a sign against depleted uranium weapons. The President agreed that nuclear and depleted uranium weapons were bad, but said there was very little he could do about them. "It's all economics," he said, repeatedly.

When the volunteer mentioned "The Conversion Project," which suggests that arms manufacturers should instead be mass-producing clean, renewable energy systems such as solar panels, windmills, hydrogen fuel cells, etc., the President enthusiastically talked about the solar cars then on display outside the Capitol Building.

A phone rang in the limousine, and an S.S. agent informed the President that it was time to leave to catch his plane to Bosnia.

As he returned to his limousine the President said, "You people aren't crazy."

Assuming the volunteer's story is true, Thomas wondered whether the Presidential Stamp Of Sanity is good news or bad.


* Since 1981, at the vigil outside the White House, tourists repeatedly ask Thomas the same questions, "Why are you so afraid of nuclear weapons?" "Why do you do stay here all the time?"

Thomas has stock a answer for these repeated questions. "I'm not afraid of the weapons. Because the they only have one practical purpose -- to kill and destroy -- I just think they are evil. Because the United States has spent almost six trillion dollars on its' nuclear arsenal -- enough to give nearly $1,000 to every person on earth -- I also believe that the weapons are foolishly wasteful.

"I figure there is one of two possibilities, (a) either I'm totally out of my mind, or (b) the people who live across the street are out of their minds. If it's me who's out of touch with reality, I'd like to come to my senses. Figure the best way to determine where I might be out of touch is to expound my beliefs in public, and listen other people's critiques. However, if it's the people on the other side of the street who are crazy. Since they are your leaders, it seems that you and a lot of other people might be in a bad situation. So I stay here because I can't think of a better why to test my sanity."

"How long are you going to keep doing this?" Passersby often ask.

"Until I can think of something more productive to do, or until somebody can convince me that I'm crazy."



* The following morning (June 13, 1999), curious about the volunteer's story, Ellen Thomas sent the following e-mail to President Clinton:

"Dear President Clinton,

"I'm told by one of our volunteers that you paid him a visit at our signs outside your house last night. I have no reason to doubt him. It warms me that you chose to visit us; I'm sorry I wasn't there to greet you. I'm sure he did a good job.

"Our volunteer tells me that you said that nukes and d.u. are bad, but economics and others dictate reality. I'm still shaken by Friday's revelations about widespread proliferation of radioactive depleted uranium. Please step forward to apologize for radioactive weapons and vow to work for the transformation of our society...."

On June 14th, the White House mailed Ellen the following reply from President Clinton. This could be construed as confirmation of the volunteer's story.